Recovering our true state of being : Ben Okri’s fable, ‘The Comic Destiny’

Show simple item record Gray, Rosemary A. 2018-03-29T05:25:31Z 2017
dc.description.abstract Ben Okri’s ‘The Comic Destiny’ from Tales of Freedom (2009. London: Random House) is a sobering modern fable that represents a new form of dialogue within the context of dispossession, slavery (in its broadest terms) and fragmented human relationships. Okri confronts familiar history across borders. Profoundly affected by the Nigerian Civil War, Okri confesses to a preoccupation with justice, a key theme in the story. For Okri, a poet-seer, justice alludes to the existence of the ideal lying beyond reality, within a proto-rationalistic worldview. This article briefly discusses the fable as fictional mode and the symbolism of the forest as setting.This is a contribution to clarifying Okri’s gnomic fable with reference to the use of literary, historical and imaginative moral echoes. It suggests that the text contains allusive cross-references to his own Starbook (2007) and Samuel Beckett’s Play, reproduced as a film called Comédie.There are faint echoes too of Dante’s Divine Comedy, originally entitled Comédie. This reading is deduced from the meaning of comédie coupled with the title, thrust and setting of ‘The Comic Destiny’, with its largely unnamed, world-weary dramatis personae lost in an infernal clearing in the forest. Employing the stichomythic dialogic stance of Greek tragicomedy, this modern fable dramatizes the way in which personality tends to obstruct reception and communication. Beckett’s thesis is that language perpetuates a communicative impasse, while perception is marred by the observer’s infecting the observed with his or her own mobility. Okri goes ‘beyond’ Beckett’s separate dynamisms; he exposes the iniquities of slavery, broadly speaking, and the paradoxical resilience of the enslaved, and he hints at a redemption of suffering, through an imaginative quest to regain our true state of being. en_ZA
dc.description.department English en_ZA
dc.description.embargo 2019-09-01
dc.description.librarian hj2018 en_ZA
dc.description.uri en_ZA
dc.identifier.citation Rosemary Gray (2017) Recovering our true state of being: Ben Okri’s fable, ‘The Comic Destiny’, English Academy Review, 34:2, 35-50, DOI: 10.1080/10131752.2017.1411465. en_ZA
dc.identifier.issn 1013-1752 (print)
dc.identifier.issn 1753-5360 (online)
dc.identifier.other 10.1080/10131752.2017.1411465
dc.language.iso en en_ZA
dc.publisher Routledge en_ZA
dc.rights © Unisa Press 2017. This is an electronic version of an article published in English Academy Review, vol. 34, no. 2, pp. 35-50, 2017. doi : 10.1080/10131752.2017.1411465 . English Academy Review is available online at : http://www.tandfonline.comloi/racr20. en_ZA
dc.subject Samuel Beckett’s play en_ZA
dc.subject Communicative impasse en_ZA
dc.subject Fable en_ZA
dc.subject Forest symbolism en_ZA
dc.subject Ben Okri’s ‘The Comic Destiny’ en_ZA
dc.subject Ben Okri’s Starbook en_ZA
dc.title Recovering our true state of being : Ben Okri’s fable, ‘The Comic Destiny’ en_ZA
dc.type Postprint Article en_ZA

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